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Getting back to my gaming PC I finally had the chance to try out the demo for the new Batman game. I had noted the high review scores it was getting so I had rather large expectations.

Entering the title-screen a love for details is instantly noticeable as well as high production values. In the menu you find cards with details about the characters in the game, with more to be found in the game world. At the moment though there are only cards for Batman and Joker. The cards contain general information and some character history, but what most caught my attention were a couple of tapes containing dialogue from Joker’s psychiatric treatment. Only two were unlocked but they already deepened the character of Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill).

Joker

Starting the game itself you’re treated to a quick cut-scene where Batman brings Joker into Arkham. The top notch voice acting and a very cinematic feel to the game come forth rather quickly. Then the music kicks in and I’m sucked right in. By the end of the cut-scene it becomes apparent that Joker wanted to be brought to Arkham asylum for some nefarious scheme and its up to Batman to stop him. Let the criminal bashing commence.

The demo gives a short sneak peek of all the gameplay elements: Hand to hand combat, sneaking around while quietly disposing of enemies and using Batman’s detective mode to find hints and clues. Judging from the shorth taste I got, the fighting is a lot of fun, if it remains to be seen what kind of combos Batman can pull of later in the game. His basic punch already disposed of enemies easily. What I most liked was how powerful controlling Batman felt. My experience was rather close to the scene in Batman Begins where he, for the first time, takes care of a group of criminals in the harbour by sneaking around and scaring the living shit out of them.

Don't mess with the Bat

Even if I mention Batman Begins, the game is a far cry from that movie and The Dark Knight, with a more cartoony feel to it. Its still very dark and grim bringing Frank Miller’s envisioning of Batman to mind. As far as I can gather from the demo all the elements of a great game are there. A strong story, characters and solid gameplay. In general mood I was reminded of Bioshock with a lot more sneaking. Looking at the reviews Batman Arkham Asylum is getting I’d say this might be another Escape From Butcher’s Bay and I can’t wait for Batman to grapple his way onto my PC.

Arkham

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A demo for Frozenbyte’s hopping fantasy puzzler is out. Check it out here. The game itself arrives on the third of July. Some impressions on the demo follow:

Countryside castle

The game opens up with a pretty countryside castle. A rather low and enjoyable male voice goes on to tell that the kingdom has fallen into trouble and the undead are rising. Then you’re introduced to each of the game’s three playable characters: a thief, a wizard and a warrior, who proceed to make their way to the same jewel. The thief is there for bounty of course. I’m not sure why the wizard goes searching for a jewel, but since he’s more interested in enjoying himself than learning spells, as the narrator tells us, perhaps he’s just after the pretty thief. The warrior is just looking to kick some skeleton ass. The jewel appears to be a magical soul-binding one that ties the characters souls’ together. Luckily the wizard knows of some creature that should know more about such magic and the adventure begins.

Is he... sleeping

From a gameplay perspective the soul-binding means that you can swich between the characters. The thief has a grapling hook, the warrior has a sword for skeleton bashing and a shield for blocking while the wizard can move objects and create boxes. Each characters’ skills are needed to solve the games puzzles, which were rather simple and involved a lot of jumping and moving objects around. Course there’s only the first level to play so its left to see how complicated the puzzles will be.

Water flow

Back to the story: From the introduction on the game is very atmospheric. The narrator is well cast and the voice-actors for each of the characters work well also. The talking comes over the game while playing, so no cut-scenes in this game. I rather like this approach more and the game isn’t probably going to be that heavy on the story, but that remains to be seen. The characters are rather cliche but with some parody mixed in that doesn’t really bother too much. The game envinronments also deserve a mention: The game looks beatiful. Will definitely want to play this once it comes out.

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